“Liar liar, pants on fire!”
You have no idea how many times I have wanted to blurt that out over the years. Totally mature, I know. But honestly, over all these years, there have been numerous times when I have felt so defeated and so let down because of the little un-truths that were said.
Here are four little “lies” that consistently popped up…and still do (but now I know the truth behind them):
Lie #1: My family comes first.
Truth: Medicine is number one. I don’t get personal days or really even any sick days. I would rather be at my son’s baseball or my daughter’s recital , but I just can’t. I can’t leave my critically ill patient, or in the middle of check out, or leave my team scrambling to cover for me.
Helpful Hint: This is especially true during med school, residency, & fellowship. Not only are they there to learn, but they are under so much pressure to perform and find favor with their attendings. It’s a tough road but the sooner you can accept the fact you will be carrying most of the responsibilities at home, the better. It’s not fair. It stinks. But that’s just how it is.
Lie #2: I’ll be home soon…I’m leaving in 20 minutes.
Truth: I really have no idea when I am leaving the hospital but I feel guilty I’m not home yet, so I’ll tell you a time because that’s what I think you want to hear. And I really wish I can leave in 20 minutes, but I who am I kidding?
Helpful hint: I made the rule with my husband that he is not to call me until he is in the car on his way home or even better – about 5 minutes away. Seriously, this has prevented many arguments.
Lie #3: Sure, honey, make those plans to go out with your friends next week…I’ll be home in time to put the kids to bed. You don’t need to call a babysitter.
Truth: I really want to be home in time so you can go out and have a break, and I hope I actually am able to. But honestly, I have no control over those patients who get admitted at the very last minute or the surgery that lasts longer than planned or the emergency that popped up right as I’m supposed to be “off.”
Helpful hint: Call a sitter. Nine times out of 10, he probably won’t make it home in time. If he actually does, apologize to the sitter & give her some gas money. Done. Now go out and have a fun time.
Lie #4: I promise life will get better when I’m done with residency/fellowship.
Truth: Don’t expect much. Yes, our salary will increase but my schedule won’t change a whole lot.
Helpful Hint: That is pretty much the truth. The increase in salary has been a HUGE burden lifted. But my husband hasn’t had a weekend off since September. He left the house this morning at 4:30a.m. and I’m not exactly sure when he’ll be home tonight. Set the bar low, my friends…set the bar really low.
It took me a few years (and countless tears) to recognize these patterns. But when I was finally able to figure out what my husband was actually trying to say, I realized he made those promises with good (or maybe even guilt-driven) intentions.
He WANTED those things to be true. He wanted to leave in 20 minutes. He wanted to be home with the kids. He wanted to be there on their 1st day of school or for Dads & Donuts Day. And he wanted life after training to be dramatically different.
And now a little confession for the ladies:
THE BIG FAT LIE DOCTOR’S WIVES BELIEVE
Lie: This is too much. It’s not fair. I didn’t sign up for this.
Truth: For better or for worse…For richer or for poorer <– You had no idea, right?! I don’t think any of us can ever understand what we are walking into when we said we’d marry a guy who is on the medical path. Even if someone tries to explain it, it’s not something you can truly understand until you live it…which makes it a very lonely place to be sometimes. You two are in this together. It takes a special woman to walk the path you are on. You’re guy loves you (even if he falls asleep mid-sentence) and he’s lucky to have you. You can do this.
Helpful Hint: So this is the hard part being married to one of these guys: You have to learn how to extend grace and forgiveness time after time after time. Because you will be disappointed. A lot. And if you don’t learn to forgive (or aren’t willing to), anger and bitterness will take root. It will find you in the dark and lonely places and feed you more lies. And that, my sweet friend, is the truth.
And I know that’s the truth…. because it happened to me.
…Or at least that’s what my therapy bill is telling me…